Darts is a game of physical accuracy and precision. If you are good at it, you’ll be the envy of the local tavern. If you are bad at it…you’re likely to put someone’s eye out!
Number of Players
2 (can also be played in teams)
Each player has 3 darts. A dart is a small arrow-like projectile consisting of a pointed tip (either steel or plastic depending on the board), a barrel, and an end shaft fitted with feathers or “flights.” You probably want to be wearing shoes too!
The board is a circular target (usually 18” in diameter), divided into 20 wedge shaped sections (tapering inward to the center). The wedges are numbered as follows, starting at the very top of the board and moving clockwise: 20, 1, 18, 4, 13, 6, 10, 15, 2, 17, 3, 19, 7, 16, 8, 11, 14, 9, 12, 5. The board is also divided by a pair of concentric rings: the “double” ring located on the outer edge of the board, and the “triple” ring located midway between the double ring and the center, or “bull’s-eye.” The bull’s-eye is also divided into 2 parts: the outer bull, and the inner (or double) bull. The board hangs on a wall with the bull’s-eye situated 5’ 8” from the ground.
Players take turns throwing all 3 of their darts from behind a line on the floor located 7’ 9” away from the board. Once a player has thrown all 3 darts, their score is tallied for the turn before the darts are removed from the board. Players alternate turns until one of the players reaches a pre-determined score for the win.
Each wedge is worth a number of points equal to its numbered label, with the double ring being worth 2x the number, and the triple ring being worth 3x the number. So in other words, if the 3 darts you throw all land in the 20 wedge, with one in the double ring, and one in the triple ring…you earn 20 points for the single, 40 points for the double, and a whopping 60 points for the triple, giving you a grand total of 120 points for the turn! The outer bull is worth 25 points and the double bull…you guessed it…50 points.
There are many different varieties of games that can be played with a standard dart board, but there are 3 that are officially recognized: 301, 501, and Cricket.
301 and 501
In each of these games, players start with a score (either 301, or 501…but you knew that) and attempt to reduce that score to zero. Typically, for both games, a player must begin and end their game by landing a dart in the double ring. Each number a player hits throughout the game reduces their score by that number, but in order to win, they must hit zero EXACTLY. For example, if a player has only 18 points remaining, they can win the game by hitting the double 9 (or perhaps by hitting a single 6 followed by a double 6). If, however, you allow your score to get all the way down to 2, you can only win by hitting the double 1. If a player attempting to zero-out throws a score that would reduce their score to less than zero, that player “busts” and their entire score for that turn is not counted.
In this game, the only scores that count are the numbers 15-20, and the bull’s-eye. Each player’s goal is to “close” all of these spaces by hitting each one of them three times. When one player has hit a number three times and the other player hasn’t, that number is considered “open,” and the player who opened it may now earn points (equal to its value) by hitting it additional times. Once both players have hit a number three times, that number is “closed,” and no more points may be earned for hitting it. The winner is the first player to close all of their numbers and the bull’s-eye, and be ahead in points.